Ethics And Blogging
A deep frustration with the typical theological college Ethics curriculum was one of the initial inspirations for my PhD research. Part of the problem was that those kinds of courses focus almost exclusively on the big life and death ethical issues – war, euthanasia, abortion, homosexuality and so on. What is often missing though is […]
A deep frustration with the typical theological college Ethics curriculum was one of the initial inspirations for my PhD research. Part of the problem was that those kinds of courses focus almost exclusively on the big life and death ethical issues – war, euthanasia, abortion, homosexuality and so on.
What is often missing though is some ethical consideration of the more everyday moral issues of personal and social interaction – honesty, loyalty, commitment, hard work, trust and so on. I’m no fan of Stanley Hauerwas, but I think he is totally right to say that the one thing ministers are not told often enough in their training is to “…tell the truth.”
Part of my fascination with blogging comes from a personal belief (or delusion) that it is a good practice for anyone in “full-time” ministry (or for any Christian thinker). Perhaps we are approaching a time when pastors will have to explain why they don’t blog, rather than why they do?
But, if we are going to do this thing as part of a transformative theological practice, then we surely need to consider its ethical implications. What i mean here has less to do with rules and prescriptions than it has to considering how well our blogging practice fits with our other practical and spiritual commitments.
Consider the issue of citing references, or linkage. One of the conventions of blogging is that if a fellow blogger draws your attention to a piece, say in a magazine or newspaper (or another blog or YouTube), you reference both the destination piece and the blogger who found it for you.
This mirrors the standard academic practices of referencing secondary material. A failure to do so is a form of plagiarism, or to put it another way, a form of lying.
This is more than just a failure of character, it is also potentially a failure as an educator/pastor/mentor. Citing your sources models your approach to research, to breadth of reading and filtering information. Linkage models discernment.
Finally, a failure to link well breaks the blogosphere. We are playing with a virtual ecclesiology here as links build networks and potentially relationships. It’s the blogosphere’s equivalent of word of mouth.
These kinds of ethical considerations also apply to comments. In part, this is why I think it is helpful for pastors (and theological educators) to blog – it puts us in contact with difference; with a world of opinion and ideas. Responding to comments helps one deal with other points of view, with the times that people misunderstand what you are saying and even with your own errors in thought and judgement.
[tags] Linkage, Comments, Ethics [/tags]